22 January 2018

Full Renault Trafic (14 on) Model Review

by CJ Hubbard, Vans Editor

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - front
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - front bumper
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - rear
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - side
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - side doors open
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - load area
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - load area side door
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - side stripes
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - what's it like to drive
  • Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - inside the cab
  • Sharp, sporty looks for Renault’s mid-size van
  • Celebrates links with Renault F1 team
  • Comfy and good to drive but modest payload
Renault Trafic (14 on) SWB 1.6 dCi (145ps) SL27 ENERGY Formula Edition Van - Road Test
After a distinctly different sporty looking van that still comes with a bit of a proper pedigree image? Then the Renault Formula Editions could be for you. Biggest seller is likely to be the Renault Trafic Formula Edition in the medium van sector, which we’ve got for review here – but matching versions of both the Kangoo small van and Master large van are also available.

After a distinctly different sporty looking van that still comes with a bit of a proper pedigree image? Then the Renault Formula Editions could be for you. Biggest seller is likely to be the Renault Trafic Formula Edition in the medium van sector, which we’ve got for review here – but matching versions of both the Kangoo small van and Master large van are also available.

Just one thing, though: you’d better like black and yellow…

Renault prices sporty new Formula Edition vans

Whoa. The Renault Trafic Formula Edition is certainly striking to look at

Yep. Finished in Pearlescent Black with Sirius Yellow detailing, it sure does stand out – so it’ll be pretty easy to find again in the carpark.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - rear

Neat details include the blacked-out Renault badge, grille and 17-inch alloy wheels; we’re not so taken with the yellow foglight surrounds. On the inside there’s a standard-fit Luxe pack (more details below) and special Formula Edition mats.

How the looks compare to the likes of the Ford Transit Custom Sport or the VW Transporter Sportline is probably a matter for personal preference. And how much you like yellow.

Ford Transit Custom Sport vs VW Transporter Sportline twin-test review

Beyond the eye-catching colouring, you might argue Renault hasn’t actually gone far enough in the transformation. Compared to both the Ford and – especially – the VW, the Trafic’s physical alteration is really rather mild.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - front bumper

But then, you might also be glad it lacks a ground-hugging front bumper the next time you’re faced with a particularly aggressive sleeping policeman.

What was that about the Renault Trafic Formula Edition having proper pedigree?

The clue is in the name – these vans celebrate the link between the Renault Pro+ light commercial vehicle (LCV) business and the Renault Formula 1 team.

Tenuous, maybe. But Renault F1 does use Renault vans as support vehicles.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - side

In terms of the Trafic range, the Formula Edition sits alongside the regular Sport model as an upgrade to the Business+ specification. And unlike those rival sporty vans, its added bells and whistles are available on all Trafic engine options as well as both short and long wheelbase lengths – though only the standard low rather than high roof.

Is the Formula Edition faster than a regular Renault Trafic?

Sadly, no. This is a van in a fancy suit, not an F1 car in disguise. The best you can hope for is the top-spec 145hp twin-turbo version of the Trafic’s regular 1.6-litre diesel engine, which we’re testing here.

There’s no particular shame in this – it’s a smooth, surprisingly potent engine.

And for all that it’s significantly out-gunned on paper by those Ford and VW rivals, which boast 170hp and 204hp respectively, in isolation you’re rarely going to find yourself wishing this Renault was faster: 0-62mph is quoted at just 10.9 seconds.

So the Renault Trafic Formula Edition is good to drive?

Really good. Not that this should be a surprise – the Trafic was already one of the best vans to drive, and there are no changes to the Formula Edition that might ruin this.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - inside the cab

A nicely mechanical and pleasingly quick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox puts most of Renault’s car transmissions to shame, helping to make the most of the impressive engine – which really does go very well for just 1.6 litres in a sector where the best rivals have 2.0-litre power.

With 340Nm of torque it should still cope with the Formula Edition’s modest maximum payload capacity just fine, while typically delivering real-world fuel economy to shame most medium rivals. Great motor.

Better yet is the Trafic’s tidy handling. Not only does it ride bumps well – despite the 17-inch wheels, and even when unladen – bodyroll is limited, predictable and controlled, while the keen steering provides an unexpected level of detail and feedback for a van.

This makes the Trafic fun on a B-road, and the driver confident in the throes of city-centre, uh, traffic.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - what's it like to drive

The standard-fit electronic stability control system also features a Grip Xtend function, improving traction in slippery conditions such as snow and ice as well as mud. Don’t expect to go off-roading, but it could get you out of trouble.

What’s the Renault Trafic Formula Edition like in the cab?

The test van was awash with optional extras – including the car-like R-Link infotainment console with sat-nav, a climate control system, keyless go and handy reversing camera, not to mention additional curtain and passenger airbags – but even so, the Formula Edition is a comfortable place to spend time.

Supportive, comfy seats and clear dials cover the basics, while the Luxe pack standard on this model adds a touch of extra quality with its leather-finished gearknob, satin radio and speaker surrounds, gloss black air vents, chrome detailing and closed upper glovebox area.

If you’re not familiar with Renault’s control layout it might take you a short time to get used to the position of things such as the steering column-mounted audio controls – and it’s a shame the buttons on the steering wheel for the cruise control aren’t illuminated, making them tricky to use at night – but otherwise everything is very user-friendly.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - load area side door

In fact, we’d argue Renault’s designers have gone a little too far in making the Trafic homely, as one of our routine criticisms of this van is the lack of useful storage in the cab.

Having a fold down middle passenger seat that converts into a desk and space under the passenger bench is all very well – but day-to-day stash cubbies are sadly lacking, and the door pockets aren’t very practical. The clever phone cradle has been out-grown by most smartphones now, too.

DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB connection are standard, and the subtle colour-coded gearshift indicator might just save you money by helping you drive more efficiently.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition load area dimensions and payload

The Renault Trafic Formula Edition we’re testing is an SL27 model – which is short-wheelbase (SWB) and the lower gross vehicle weight (GVW); you can have a Formula Edition LL29 instead which is long-wheelbase (LWB) and a higher GVW. The GVW is worth considering because impacts the amount of payload you can carry – and this is an area where the Trafic is typically limited.

These are the Renault Trafic Formula Edition SL27 dCi 145 load area dimensions:

  • Maximum load length: 2,537mm
  • Maximum load height: 1,387mm
  • Maximum load width: 1,662mm
  • Width between the wheelarches: 1,268mm
  • Maximum payload: 1,077kg

This is one of the lower payload ratings in the medium van sector – and needs to be considered in light of all the Formula Edition’s standard equipment, which will eat into it slightly.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - load area

The load area on this example is ply-lined at extra cost (£630 at the time of writing), and it has an additional sliding door on the driver’s side (£280; the passenger-side sliding door is standard equipment).

A load-through flap in the bulkhead extends the maximum load length to 2,950mm.

Medium vans ranked by payload

Renault Trafic Formula Edition running costs

Like almost every van that meets Euro 6 emissions regulations, the Trafic has an AdBlue tank, which needs to be topped up – usually every 5,000 miles or so, depending on the sorts of journeys you do.

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - side stripes

Claimed fuel economy is a reasonable 46.3mpg according to the official figures – a way off the top mpg for the medium van class on paper, but the Trafic’s engines are impressively efficient performers in the real world.

Renault also gives you a four-year warranty and four years’ of roadside assistance as standard.

Medium vans ranked by mpg

Verdict

One of the nicest driving vans around, the Renault Trafic is certainly a top choice for those who do lots of miles over lots of different types of road – but aren’t worried about maximising payload capacity.

Priced from £25,850 (ex-VAT) with this, the most powerful engine option, the Formula Edition is good value, and the attention-grabbing looks could be a great way to promote your business.

On the other hand, if you’re not sold on the black and yellow, the regular Trafic has all the same strengths with added subtlety.

Rivals to consider

Ford Transit Custom Sport

Vauxhall Vivaro Limited Edition Nav

VW Transporter Sportline

Also read:

The best medium vans for payload

The best medium vans for mpg

The Renault Trafic full review on Parkers Vans

Renault Trafic Formula Edition review - side doors open